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ALERT: Journalist barred from covering Marawi residents’ returning to their homes

March 30, 2018

A journalist covering the return of Marawi folk to ground zero was barred from entering the war-torn city on Friday.

An unidentified officer of the 103rd Brigade of the Philippine Army (PA) barred Davao Today and Kilab Multimedia reporter Kath M. Cortez from covering the rally that marked the return of Marawi City residents to their homes.

While taking photos of the protesters at the PA-Philippine National Police blockade at the city’s Rapitan Bridge, the officer saw Cortez’s media ID and reportedly shouted: “’Uy, taga-Davao. Kumpiskahin ang ID! Kumpiskahin ang camera! Palabasin ‘yan ng Marawi!”

(Hey, she’s from Davao! Confiscate her ID! Confiscate her camera! Get her out of Marawi!)

Before soldiers could carry out the order, Cortez had safely retreated at the back of rally where she was joined by fellow journalists from Davao City.

While covering the rally’s program, which was about to end, a military again approached and told her to get out of the city.

Cortez and her fellow journalists from Davao have safely gotten out of the city as of posting time.

–NUJP Media Safety Office

PNP blocks Bicol farmers’ caravan

Hundreds of farmer-activists from Bicol complained of harassment when members of the Quezon Province police blocked their caravan on its way to Manila Sunday night.

The Provincial Public Safety Company-6th Maneuver Platoon of the Philippine National Police (PNP) blocked Lakbay Paraoma’s 28 buses, a jeep and a van at around 7:30 last night led by a certain Major Morillo in Barangay Talipan, Pagbilao in Quezon province.

Lakbay Paraoma is the Bicol Region contingent of the ongoing nationwide Lakbay Magsasaka to Metro Manila for a series of events demanding genuine agrarian reform.

In the convoy was the vehicle of Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao who joined the peasant caravan from Bicol to Manila.

The PNP issued traffic violation tickets against the 28 caravan bus drivers who they alleged were not wearing seatbelts.

Two bus drivers signed the tickets and were fined PhP5,000 each while the others refused, saying they were wearing seatbelts.

Bus driver Dude Villareal admitted he was not wearing a seatbelt but insisted it was harassment to derail the caravan.

“We will continue to fight for the rights of the farmers. The PNP will always find ways, such as issuing bogus violations to silence the protesters,” Bert Author, chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol (KMB-KMP), said.

While negotiations were ongoing, caravan participants cooked dinner and threatened to stage an impromptu rally should the PNP refused to let them through.

The PNP subsequently revoked the traffic violation citations, saying it was a mere misunderstanding, alternative media outfit Baretang Bikolnon reported.

The caravan arrived at Calamba, Laguna past midnight where they spent the rest of the night.

They will join the farmers from Mindanao at the protest camp-out at the Department of Agrarian Reform before their major protest rally at Mendiola on October 25. (Raymund B. Villanueva/With reports from and photo by Baretang Bikolnon)

NDFP to GRP: Stop AFP-PNP if you want ‘lowering levels of violence’

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel said the Rodrigo Duterte government should look at its own forces if it wants to see “lowering levels of violence” in the country.

In a statement, NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said it is the Armed Forces of the Philippines -Philippine National Police (AFP-PNP) that sows violence in the country.

“Sec. Bello should look at their own troops and police before making such outrageous demands on the revolutionary movement,” Agcaoili told Kodao.

Agcaoili was reacting to Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III’s statement Monday that formal peace negotiations could be resumed if the New People’s Army decreases its attacks against the military.

BusinessMirror reported Monday that the government panel is closely monitoring the situation in the countryside to evaluate if the environment is conducive for peace negotiations.

“We are still waiting for better developments, [a] lowering level of violence,” Bello said.

But Agcaoili said Bello should address his call to the AFP-PNP.

“Since in the month of September alone, the AFP and PNP have conducted three aerial bombardments against communities in Batangas, Agusan del Norte and North Cotabato and killed Lumad and civilians in Davao Sur, Negros Occidental and Sultan Kudarat,” Agcaoili said.

“(The military also) have claimed to have killed nine Red fighters in Nueva Ecija, four in Pangasinan, two each in Zamboanga and North Cotabato, one each in Batangas and Ilocos Sur, and have arrested alleged NPA fighters in the above-mentioned provinces as well as in Palawan, Catanduanes, Mindoro, among others,” Agcaoili added.

GRP President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled the fifth round of formal in The Netherlands last May after failing to force the NDFP to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement.

Duterte however said he is not averse to the resumption of the talks after the NPA released a prisoner of war (POW) September 15 in accordance with the GRP-NDFP’s Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

The NDFP chief negotiator said the NPA’s release of former POW Senior Police Officer 2 George Rupinta in Compostela Valley Province proves it follows humanitarian laws in its conduct of war.

“The NPA is waging a just war of national and social liberation in accordance with its own humane rules of engagement with utmost respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and in accordance with its circumstances,” Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PADEM ouster statement did not come from us–Sison

Jose Maria Sison belied an accusation linking him and an Amsterdam-based web developer to a group claiming to be officers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) intent on ousting President Rodrigo Duterte.

Reacting to a Philippine Star news report naming web developer Jon Bustamante as the one who uploaded the so-called Patriotic and Democrative Movement (PADEM) statement, Sison said it is silly and speculative for the AFP to even mention him as being close to Bustamante.

The Star report quoted an unnamed cyber expert from the AFP as its source who alleged it was Bustamante who uploaded the PADEM statement on a social domain in Utrecht.

In a statement issued Monday, PADEM said they condemn and hold Duterte accountable for alleged gross crimes that violate national sovereignty and democratic rights of the people.

“We pledge to work for the withdrawal of military and police support for Duterte and his administration in conjunction with mass mobilization of the Filipino people in millions to manifest their demand for the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration,” the group’s spokesperson Antonio Bonifacio said.

“Whoever is the cyber expert of [AFP spokesperson] Gen. (Restituto) Padilla, he is merely looking at the name of Jon Bustamante as the one who registered the domain of Pinoy Abrod. Bustamante is a web developer, dealing with internet sites and content—providing services to all his clients,” Sison said.

Bustamante also operates a photography studio in The Netherlands.

Sison said Bustamante received the PADEM statement calling for the ouster of Duterte from the Philippines and the United States of America.

Sison said the statement did not originate from Bustamante.

“[They] are barking up a wrong tree by accusing Jon Bustamante of Pinoy Abrod, an Amsterstam-based publication of overseas Filipino contract workers, as the one-man originator of the call of the PADEM for the ouster of Rodrigo R. Duterte,” Sison said.

Padilla refused to comment on Sison’s statement.

“I have not seen the [Star] report,” Padilla told Kodao. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(Disclosure: Kodao, as other Philippine media outfits, has utilized Bustamante’s photos in past reports.)

AFP-PNP group calls for Duterte’s ouster

A group claiming to be officers and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) called for the ouster of President Rodrigo Duterte for “betrayal of public trust.”

In a statement issued Monday, the Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM) said they condemn and hold Duterte accountable for alleged gross crimes that violate national sovereignty and democratic rights of the people.

“We pledge to work for the withdrawal of military and police support for Duterte and his administration in conjunction with mass mobilization of the Filipino people in millions to manifest their demand for the resignation or ouster of Duterte and his administration,” the group’s spokesperson Antonio Bonifacio said.

PADEM said Duterte and his administration committed the following crimes:

  1. Treating the AFP and the PNP as these were his private armies and practising favoritism and violating professional and service standards in the promotion and assignment of officers;
  2. Corrupting the PNP and the AFP with a system of monetary awards for the extrajudicial killing of alleged illegal drug users and of NPA suspects;
  3. Condoning and protecting top-level illegal drug lords (including Davao City vice mayor Paolo Duterte) and protectors (at the level of governors and generals);
  4. Emboldening /Inciting police officers to engage in extrajudicial killings of poor suspected illegal drug users and pushers by publicly telling officers to plant evidence and by guaranteeing their pardon and promotion in case of conviction;
  5. Aggravating corruption in government and criminality through the collusion of Duterte trustees and crime syndicates;
  6. Allowing China to occupy maritime features in the West Philippine Sea and to violate Philipine sovereign rights upheld by decision of the Arbitral Tribunal in accordance with the UN Convention on he Law of the Sea;
  7. Bungling the operations in Marawi City and indiscrinately destroying lives and property through aerial bombings, artillery and mortar;
  8. Favoring certain Chinese businessmen and Duterte relatives and cronies in the award of projected infrastructure projects using loans from China;
  9. Betraying the sovereign rights of the Filipino people by making the Philippines a debt vassal of China and offering to China the oil and gas resources under the West Philippine Sea as collateral for Chinese loans; and
  10. Seeking to replace the partnership with the United States in matters of national security with an even more lopsided relationship with China and Russia.

“Upon the change of administration, we pledge to follow the principle of civilian supremacy and support a new civilian administration, in accordance with the 1987 Constitution and the rule of law,” Bonifacio said.

PADEM is the first group of disgruntled AFP and PNP personnel to form and call for Duterte’s ouster.

Unfounded and uncalled for

The AFP quickly downplayed the group and declared its full support to Duterte.

“The AFP categorically denies the recent statement issued by a group that pretends to be representative of the men and women of the AFP and the PNP that calls itself the Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM),” AFP spokesperson BGen. Restituto Padilla Jr., said.

“Such issues are clearly politically motivated and a matter that the AFP does not and will not subscribe to,” he said.

Padilla warned the military will act against forces that undermine the Duterte government, especially through unconstitutional means.

“Current developments and issues that this group wishes to take advantage of is now being addressed by the Department of Justice and parties to a possible crime are now under detention. Let us respect these processes and not allow ourselves to be used by individuals or groups with vested interests,” he said.

“The AFP appeals to the public and the various political groups to respect the apolitical stance of the AFP and help bring unity and healing instead of fomenting divisiveness and collapse,” he added.

The AFP and the Philippine Constabulary-PNP, however, has contributed to the ouster of Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada by their withdrawal of support in 1986 and 2001, respectively.

Corrupt and cruel regime

PADEM, however, immediately earned the support of a former officer and Philippine Military Academy (PMA) professor.

“Fellow PMAers, let us join the Patriotic and Democratic Movement (PADEM),” Professor Dante Simbulan said on his Facebook account.

A member of PMA Class of 1952, Simbulan returned to his alma mater in 1965 after active field duty in the AFP.

But Simbulan left the PMA in 1967 due to “more disillusionment,” saying the PMA only produces soldiers for the status quo.

He was credited for influencing Lts. Crispin Tagamolila and Victor Corpuz who both defected to the New People’s Army and inviting Jose Maria Sison to lecture at the academy.

Strongman Ferdinand Marcos detained Simbulan for three years from 1974 without charges. In 2016, he published the book “Whose Side Are We On?”

“It is time to put an end to this (Duterte’s) corrupt and cruel regime!” Simbulan said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Police officer killed in clash with NPA

BAGUIO CITY — A police officer was killed and another was wounded in an encounter between the Regional Police Safety Battalion (RPSB) and New People’s Army (NPA) fighters in Pangasinan Friday.

According to the Pangasinan Police Provincial Office (PPO), Police Officer 2 Aries Tamondong was killed and PO2 Joneilon Marius Bagcal was wounded in a fire fight with an undetermined number of NPA guerrillas along areas of Camps 3 and 4 and boundaries of Barangays Sta. Maria and Barangay Malico of San Nicolas, Pangasinan.

The police said the encounter started at around 9:20 AM and lasted for almost two hours.

Police launched a pursuit operation after extricating their dead and wounded colleagues from the site.

The police received reinforcement from the Provincial Police Safety Company (PPSC) and the 84th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA) during the pursuit operations.

The police said they saw blood stains at the possible escape route of the NPA fighters that may indicate there are wounded guerrillas.

Police and army forces are still conducting pursuit operations against the NPA.

The NPA still has to issue a statement on the incident. # (Kimberlie Ngabit-Quitasol)

Cagayan police abducts farmer; AFP harasses peasants opposing rubber plantation

CAGAYAN peasant group Kagimungan condemned the abduction of farmer leader Sofronio Pascua last July 17 in Tuguegarao City.

Pascua was arrested by four men in civilian clothing he suspected were police officer at one o’clock in the afternoon Monday.

“They trained a gun at me while ordering me to raise my hands. They forcibly took my phone and money away. They did not give me back my money,” Pascua said.

He later told Kagimungan members he was forced to lie face down inside a police vehicle and was beaten before being taken to a building in a secluded place.

While inside the vehicle, his abductors also took away his bag containing important documents and other personal property, Pascua said.

He said there were police officers in uniform around the safe house where he was taken and interrogated for about an hour.

Pascua was released after an hour without explanation without charges.

The victim is a resident of Barangay Banguian, Abulug, Cagayan where he is the local Anakpawis chapter leader. He is active in their group’s campaign for land distribution to poor farmers, Kagimungan said.

“This is clearly a human rights violation that shows the real face of the Duterte regime’s all-out war. The regime targets civilians, especially members of progressive and patriotic organizations,” Kagimungan’s Roderick Deric said.

Greening program as landgrabbing

Meanwhile, the peasant group also complained of ongoing military surveillance and harassments against farmers opposed to the government’s National Greening Program (NGP) projects in Baggao, Cagayan.

The group said elements of the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army conducted surveillance operations in Sitio Kagurungan, Baranggay Awallan at Sitio Reggaay, Barangay Hacienda Intal last July 15 to intimidate six farmer leaders opposing the NGP.

The farmers are opposing the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) plans to plant rubber trees under the NGP.

“This is simply land-grabbing as the lands they have identified have already been cultivated by the residents for generations,” Kagimungan-Baggao spokesperson Pacencia Mercado said.

The DENR and the local government unit have earlier held a consultation in Sitio Reggaay and promised the residents scholarships for students and medical assistance to farmers in exchange for the use of their lands.

“But the project could only mean the permanent loss of livelihood of the farmers,” Mercado said.

Kagimungan said they also received information that a military camp would soon be built in Sitio Reggaay because of the farmers’ ongoing campaign for land and opposition to the establishment of a rubber tree plantation.

“We have won over many other anti-farmer projects in the past. We are confident we will defeat these new schemes again,” Mercado added. # (Deo Montesclaros and Patricia Anne Lactao Guerrero)

 

 

 

Panels may resume talks in August; GRP commits to no offensives vs NPA

Stalled formal peace negotiations between the Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) may resume in August, sources told Kodao Productions.

Following exchanges of “friendly” statements after Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) negotiators backed off from the scheduled fifth round of talks in The Netherlands last month, back-channel talks are reportedly ongoing in a bid to resume the talks in about two months.

“There is a possibility that the talks will be held in August,” a source involved in the negotiations said.

In his weekly Philippine Star column yesterday, NDFP independent observer and former chief negotiator Satur Ocampo wrote that both parties have agreed to resume the talks, adding the panels may issue their respective statements soon.

“A few days ago, it was learned that, through back channel talks, members of the two panels had resolved certain actual or perceived hindrances and agreed to continue the disrupted fifth round of negotiations within two months,” Ocampo reported.

He added that NDFP Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison already broke the “good news” in an interview with ANC Wednesday morning.

“He (Sison) said statements on the points of agreement arrived at during the back-channel talks can be expected to be officially issued separately by the panels,” Ocampo added.

No offensive operations

In a statement today, GRP chief negotiator Silvestre Bello III declared that the Philippine government will not launch offensive operations against the New People’s Army (NPA) in response to the NDFP’s recommendation to the Communist Party of the Philippines to refrain from attacking the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police while the battle in Marawi City is ongoing.

“The Philippine government hereby correspondingly reciprocates with the same declaration of not undertaking offensive operations against the New People’s Army to pave way for the eventual signing of a mutually agreed bilateral ceasefire agreement and agreements on social and economic reforms, political and constitutional reforms and end of hostilities and disposition of forces towards a just and lasting peace,” Bello said.

Yesterday, the NDFP said it has already instructed its allied organization, the Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (MRLO), inside Marawi City to assume home defense tasks against the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and AKP groups.

It added the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has also directed units of the New People’s Army (NPA) close to Marawi City to redeploy for the purpose of mopping up, holding and blocking operations, if necessary.

“For all forces to be able to concentrate against Maute, Abu Sayyaf and AKP groups, the NDFP has recommended to the CPP to order all other NPA units in Mindanao to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP), provided that the GRP order the AFP and PNP likewise to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the NPA and people’s militia,” the NDFP said.

Bello said the GRP welcomes NDFP’s support to the fight against the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and Ansar al-Khalifah groups and other terrorist organizations wreaking havoc in Marawi City and other parts of the country.

“These voluntary gestures and expressions from the NDF in solidarity with government against acts of terrorism augur well for the desired continuation of the stalled 5th round of peace talks as they provide, if sustained, the needed enabling environment favorable to moving the peace negotiations forward,” Bello said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

 

NDFP offers help to fight terrorists anew

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) reiterated its previous declaration that it stands firmly with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) in opposing and fighting terrorism in the country.

In a statement, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoil said it is willing to fight terrorist groups as well as acts of terrorism by the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and Ansar Al Khalifah Philippines (AKP) in parts of Mindanao, particularly in and around Marawi City where fighting has been raging for nearly four weeks already.

“As a matter of fundamental principle and constant policy, we condemn and combat terrorism. By terrorism, we mean actions that intimidate, terrorize, harm and murder civilians solely or mainly and in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law,” the NDFP said.

The NDFP said the three bands are “terrorist groups linked to local reactionary forces, affiliated with ISIS and supported by US-CIA and other foreign entities.”

The NDFP also said it has already instructed its allied organization, the Moro Resistance and Liberation Organization (MRLO), inside Marawi City to assume home defense tasks against the Maute, Abu Sayyaf and AKP groups.

It added the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has also directed units of the New People’s Army (NPA) close to Marawi City to redeploy for the purpose of mopping up, holding and blocking operations, if necessary.

“The NDFP is ready to discuss and agree in detail with the GRP on how ceasefire, coordination and cooperation can be achieved in Marawi City by both forces unilaterally keeping safe distances between each other,” it said.

The NDFP said it has recommended to the CPP to order all other NPA units in Mindanao to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) to enable all forces to concentrate against the three terror groups.

It added that the GRP must also order the AFP and PNP to refrain from carrying out offensive operations against the NPA and its adjunct people’s militia to give chance for the coordination and cooperation to work against the terror groups.

The NDFP panel first offered help in fighting the Maute and Abu Sayyaf in Marawi last June 1,  a week after fighting broke out in the besieged city.

President Rodrigo Duterte said the NDFP’s proposal was a sign of goodwill but turned down the offer.

In offering to help fight the terror groups, the NDFP said it wants to allow the affected communities to return to normalcy as soon as possible.

“The rights and interests of the masses and communities must be respected and promoted,” it said, urging the GRP to ensure that the level of counteraction against terrorism, as well as the nature, scope and duration must be appropriate and proportional to the degree of danger, threat and/or harm and mayhem being committed by the terrorist groups in Marawi City.

“Upon the success of the counter-terrorist measures, these must cease in order to allow normalcy and full respect for human rights as soon as possible,” the NDFP said.

Yesterday, Lt. Col. Emmanuel Garcia, commander of the 4th Civil Relations Group told reporters the number of deaths has risen to 310, including government troops, terrorists and civilians.

GRP Department of Health secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial for her part said there are 218,551 people displaced by the fighting but only about 20,000 of them are staying in evacuation centers. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured Image by Jaja Necosia-The Breakaway Media)

 

Church condemns ‘illegal arrest and detention’ of Bishop

THE Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) has accused the Philippine National Police (PNP) of illegally arresting one of its bishops, his wife and their driver in Ozamiz City in Mindanao last night.

The church said IFI Ozamiz Bishop Carlo Morales, his wife Marie Teofifina and driver Sadome Dalid were “illegally arrested, handcuffed and illegally detained in jail” even after he has identified himself as a prelate.

“Still he was accorded with such maltreatments,” IFI Pagadian Bishop Antonio Ablon said. Read more